[caption id="attachment_3619" align="alignleft" width="415"] An example chart of an IT team's velocity.[/caption] A core aspect of agile methodology is the concept of velocity. Velocity is determined through the sum of the estimates of delivered features per iteration. It refers to the amount of backlog a scrum team can handle during a sprint period. This quickly becomes essential to agile teams as it helps plan for future projects and estimate completion times. It is also helpful in determining which specific teams and methods are more productive.
Ways to Enhance Your Team's Velocity
Enhancing velocity, and therefore increasing a team’s capability to produce high-quality work, is a main objective for IT companies. Below we have listed a few ways to help improve your team’s velocity:
Set Goals- Even as agile method allows for adaptive practices, it does not mean that a team should jump into a project without specific end goals in mind. The methods that you use to get there may vary along the way, but a successful project means reaching the goals proposed with the initial project.
Communicate- A scrum team may be comprised of as many as seven individuals. While each person’s abilities will be necessary in achieving the goals of a project, too many people could lead to an overflow of ideas. Before getting too deep in a project, each team member should be aware of their exact responsibilities. Everyone on the team should remain in contact and communicate their progress throughout each iteration.
Collaborate- Introducing new team members through outsourcing can be extremely helpful in team velocity. An experienced outsourced team will bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to a project.
Be Flexible- Flexibility is essential in the agile method. As a team, you should mimic the flexible nature of the method in your work and your mindset. Don’t get caught up in work that isn’t directly benefiting the project. Be aware of when an idea isn’t working. Don’t waste time on a method just because it worked for a project in the past.
Streamline- Always analyze the workflow of you and your team. Make sure there are no habits within the process that are negatively affecting your velocity. Are there reports, paperwork, emails, memos, that don’t actually add anything substantial to the process?
Eliminate Unnecessary Meetings- While communication is key, it is also important to avoid long, drawn out meetings that don’t accomplish anything. Be cautious of built-in meetings. Instead only host them when they will actually be beneficial to the team.
Minimize Distractions- If you are able to stick to a plan throughout the course of a project, then it will be easier to stay on task. Everyone gets distracted sometimes, it is only human, but if you can set out specific goals each day then it will be easier to notice when you are falling behind and when it is time to refocus.
Trust the Employees- Micromanaging can decrease confidence and productivity in employees. Trust that your employees and coworkers are just as motivated and involved as you, and that they are capable of producing quality products. There is no use in stressing over the work of others; instead spend your time focusing on your own work.
Keep Track- One of the many benefits of using velocity is the ability to record each iteration of each project and use that data to predict future productivity. To get to that point you must be vigilant about keeping track of each move within each iteration. Before beginning a project you will need to notice how many team members will be working on the project, and how many hours they will need to spend. Be aware of how the velocity changes with each iteration. It should fluctuate within a reasonable range, but if it changes drastically between more than one or two iterations, you may need to renegotiate the plan.
Plan for the Future- Take advantage of the velocity! By following the steps above you will be able to develop a backbone of each team and their capabilities. Use this to help predict and plan for future iterations.
For more information about agile software development and improving team velocity, give us a call at (502) 890-7665.
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